Opioid Solutions Workshop Outcomes

The Challenge

Opioid overdoses claim an average of six lives per day in Massachusetts, which places the state as the fifth highest in the nation for opioid-related deaths. To combat this public health crisis, Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2015, which permits the linkage and analysis of datasets from ten different state agencies to uncover insights into opioid addiction that can drive policy.

The Opportunity

MITRE recently convened a group of diverse regional leaders from across the public and private sector to share and discuss implications of the data released and to hear from researchers about the ways they had used data to pursue specific projects.

Analytical Insights

DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel demonstrated the way that numbers can dispel myths, persuade naysayers, and create opportunities for action.

  • Patients treated with methadone or buprenorphine are 50 percent less likely to die of a subsequent overdose.
  • The risk of opioid-related death is 56 percent higher for someone following incarceration.

Centers for Disease Control has noted that it is “crucial to expand access to evidence-based treatments.”

Drilling Deeper

Two population subsets to be at particularly high risk of adverse effects,

  • Dual-prescribing veterans: These are veterans who obtain prescriptions for the same drug from both inside and outside the Veterans Administration.
  • Plight of the homeless: The opioid death rate among the homeless is 16 to 23 times higher than for people living in homes.

Trend toward illicit drugs: For the vast majority (about 80 percent), fentanyl was the most common opioid present at death.

Voice of a Person in Recovery

 “I would go in for treatment of an abscess and the doctors would say ‘What do you expect? This is what happens.’ They treated me terribly,”

RIZE Massachusetts

RIZE is building a $50 million fund to issue grants to address the opioid epidemic through a full continuum of programs from prevention to long-term sustainable recovery.

The Way Forward

Proposed interventions:

  • Improve training
  • Enhance prevention
  • Develop a continuum of care
  • Facilitate use of agonist treatments
  • Target high-risk cohorts
  • Establish best practices
  • Promote collaboration
  • Introduce new tools, tests, and systems
  • Improve public awareness

Conclusion »

Together, through public/private partnerships, regional collaborations, and initiatives like RIZE Massachusetts, we can learn to see past the stigma to treat the disease and see past the disease to treat the person.

A Predictive Model of Homelessness and its Relationship to Fatal and Nonfatal Opioid Overdose

Tom Byrne, Tom Land, Malena Hood, Dana Bernson


Massachusetts Responds to the Opioid Epidemic Using Data To Inform Policy and Programs

Monica Bharel, MD MPH Commissioner of
Public Health


Introduction to
Chapter 55

Thomas Land, PhD Director, Special
Analytic Projects




Opioid Workshop Summary






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